By Amanda Smyth Connor
Every writer should have a solid library that consists primarily of the books that you find most interesting or most inspirational in terms of improving your personal creativity and writing style. However, there are a few basics that every freelancer should have at the ready to prevent you from getting into a sticky situation.
1. The Associated Press Stylebook. This is a no-brainer and most of you are probably in possession of this, however, if you are one of the last holdouts, do yourself a favor and buy a copy. This book will clearly outline how and when to use specific vocabulary, grammar and punctuation while also outlining basic media laws. I’ve been an editor for six years and I pull out this book at least once a week. It’s worth its weight in gold.
2. The Chicago Manual of Style. You need this book because not every client who hires you uses the AP style. Plenty of clients still prefer the Chicago style over the AP style, plus it includes updates for digital media guidelines. Cover your bases and have both of these style books at the ready.
3. The Elements of Style. This elegant little book is a guide to the principle elements of writing. This book is not a rule book like the first two entries in this post. It serves as more of a basic road map for writers of all levels to follow on their journey to improving their writing skills.
4. The Writer’s Block. This kitschy little book has pulled me out of more than a few situations whereupon I found myself staring at a blank screen with a blank mind for hours on end. It comes complete with “786 ideas to jump start your creativity” that include writing exercises, spark words and tips for finding inspiration. It’s cheap, it’s fun and I like to reference this little block-shaped book every few months when my creativity well runs dry.
Have I forgotten anything vital? What are your favorite reference books?
Amanda Smyth Connor is a SEMPO-certified SEO specialist, has managed online communities and nationwide marketing campaigns for several start-up and Fortune 500 companies, and has been an editor for more years than she can remember. She also runs her own wedding planning company, Hummingbird Bridal and Events, throughout the northeast.